By George Bao Sept. 1, 2016
LOS ANGELES – The rate of suicide by American veterans is so alarming that has prompted U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu to issue a statement to call nationwide efforts to prevent the tragedy from happening again.
Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) issued a statement Thursday regarding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’s (VA) initiatives to prevent veteran and service member suicides.
“As we mark the beginning of Suicide Prevention Month, let us all take the opportunity to educate our friends and communities about the very tragic facts of Veteran suicide and the role we can play to prevent it,” the statement says.
“In 2014, 20 Veterans died by suicide every day. The good news is that each of us can make a critical difference in the life of a Veteran or Service member with a simple act of kindness—calling an old friend, talking to a neighbor, or exploring the resources available through the VA,” Lieu says in the statement.
“We can and must do better to protect those who have protected us in uniform. Today and every day, let us do our part to spread the word and be there for our veterans and service members,” the statement says.
“If you know someone in need of assistance, call the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1; chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255 — even if a Veteran is not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care,” the statement says.
The suicide rate among American veterans has increased by nearly a third since 2001, a bigger rise than in the wider population of the United States, according to a recent U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study.
The report estimated that an average of 20 veterans a day died from suicide in 2014, or about 7,300 in the year, compared to a previous estimate of 22 a day.
The study found that between 2001 and 2014, veteran suicides increased by 32 percent, while civilian suicides increased by 23 percent in the same time period.
While the suicide rate was highest among younger veterans, aged 18 to 29, most veteran suicides – 65 percent – in 2014 were among those 50 or older, according to the study.
Of an estimated 21.6 million veterans in the United States, about 8.5 million receive VA health services, the report said.
The study found the VA health services do help veterans in suicide prevention but it did not give statistics.